The response of officials of the Boston archdiocese to the scandal of priestly sexual abuse continues to turn common sense on its head.
While dozens of victims have been put on hold to await any possible compensation, we now know that hundreds of thousands of dollars have been channeled to accused priests for their own legal expenses. A case has been made that lawyers representing the victims will be making a killing off any possible settlements or jury awards in the cases – and like it or not that’s very true.
But for decades the archdiocese has been either paying legal bills or making unsecured loans for the same purpose, all in an effort to protect the very men who would have been sent to jail for their crimes years ago had those acts been disclosed in a timely fashion.
Some priests were given “loans” from the Clergy Assistance Trust, funded by “a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.” The trust is administered by the archdiocese “for priests who have need for legal assistance because of various allegations.”
Why do we think they’re not talking about shoplifting charges here? One church document notes, “It is important that we establish an arm’s length basis” for loans awarded through the trust.
The list of those receiving such aid includes John Geoghan, now doing time for child molestation, and the Revs. Paul Shanley and Ronald Paquin, both accused of child rape and now under arrest.
The fact remains that the archdiocese through the trust became an enabler of pedophiles and child abusers, by footing their legal bills in civil cases that succeeded in covering up the criminal nature of their conduct.